tv [untitled] February 21, 2012 11:30pm-12:00am EST
thank you. another point down here? >> he just made a good point about how the book is not just about that. but i think it should still be in there. but the book could also be like for adults when they read this, it's also a very motivating story. so not only are you getting a sense of history, but at the same time you're getting the motivation and inspiration from the book to do maybe something in the present day that you're encouraged to do after reading the book because you just see how strong the characters are and how they never give up and the hard times they go through. and especially today, a lot of people are going through hard times. so it really would make society motivated. i still think it's a great novel to read. >> absolutely. thank you. stop. >> i wanted to ask if anyone's seen "the help".
>> that's a very good point. >> it was really hard for me to watch it. and when i had gotten finished watching it, my mother and my father, they were out to dinner. i was in tears. i was in absolute tears. >> what upset you? >> i think what upset me the most was that we, as a human race, could be so evil to another person because of color -- >> of some small difference. >> of some small difference. and i had said before, i've been call the "n" word and the "s" word in the same sentence. i was working for a person that was mentally challenged. i hurt in my heart. not just because he was mentally challenged person. i was trying to help him. >> and this was his response. >> yes. and i was hurt. and a friend of mine was working the same place and she was angry. you could see it in her face. she was livid. and it just -- we both heard the
word but how we took it -- and my heart just broke. your parents can only tell you so much about this world. that's just it. prejudice right now, racism, it's still here. it's behind closed doors. people will say things in certain communities, people will say things in certain groups, but it's still here. and it is absolutely heart-wrenching. what do you do as a society, as a nation, when you have children that are interracial, biracial, native-american, whatever they are? what do you say to them? how do you talk to them? their hearts are going to get broken when they hear that word, i don't care who you are. >> i think it's a very valid point. thank you. i wanted to bring up an interesting thing about what you said as well. "the help" as a novel is on the best-seller list. but maybe my objection as to how popularized it is as a movie where they take a lot of stuff
out is i think it misrepresents the relationship of black women to the white people who hired them in that period of time. i think it does. i definitely have a problem with things that recreate the '50s only as some kind of dream world but everything was fine. and black folks and white folks, even though there were some evil ones, everybody worked it out. no, everybody didn't. i already cautioned you guys about the movie "mississippi burning" because i rarely have seen a movie, in my estimation, in my opinion, that so badly misrepresented the relationship between the fbi and the civil rights movement. that's all i'm going to say. i'll let you guys investigate further on your own. getting away from the libel part of that conversation. but "the help" kind of bothered me. the idea is that i need -- i just started reading the novel now. i'm not going to see the movie,
i'm going to read the novel, because i am your english teacher. but i wanted to see what the author intended in her words before i ever watch the movie. we had a discussion just the other day and my godparents were big-time in the civil rights movement. and my godmother who is white but was big time in the civil rights movement and had black people working for her and the relationship she describes sounds nothing like what was in the book, that they were close, literally they would sit and have tea together. could they have tea in front of other white people? no, they couldn't. even she admitted that, okay? i want to find out what happened. i don't want to make myself feel good about it and think that everything worked out. no, because you don't even have that today. i think we have a responsibility. literature has a responsibility. and i think if we want to get a real picture of what's painted -- remember, it's literature. it doesn't have to be 100% accurate. it doesn't. then it would be history. it would be historical documentation. but to as much as possible
represent the time that you come from -- what happens if somebody 50 years from now says there were no women in college or the ones that were here were just looking for husbands? yeah, she's laughing. she thinks that's funny. they're misrepresenting who you were. and for anybody reading that from this point on, they will believe that as fact. certainly puts them nay position as believing that as fact. just a faraway example. i know better. but i'm going to wrap this up. i want to thank you guys for taking part in this conversation. we'll continue this conversation as we go through. looking for more contemporary uses of the word. we started and let's see how far we can go with it. my purpose is not overkill but it is to deal with it in a most effective way. and the only way we get it is if you give me a piece of what you have in your head and i kind of help you try to mix it up and see how we go. you guys have been most impressive today. i want to thank you again. like i said, we'll continue our look at history exle literature. everybody feeling all right? >> yeah. >> not too bad.
not too shabby. i'll be making notes later. the next piece we go on to will be "fences." by august wilson. if i were you, i'd start looking it up. please look up august wilson as well. as a playwright he has much to offer. our discussion will be in-depth. surprised me, nice work. yes. as you remember that was actually -- someone went up to me -- we had a recent controversy here in waterbury where we had a high school play by august wilson that used the "n" word, i believe. and there was controversy about whether or not the play should be produced or not. as i understand it there were modest changes. your point exactly. do we banish the work altogether or make modifications as we americans always do, compromise and see what we come up with? nice work, everyone. well, some of you more than others. but that's okay. nice work.
>> i was just telling them all about "mona lisa smile" which we were talking about -- there was a scene with julia roberts and the whole class is dark. and she brings up a picture -- advertisement on the wall and she says, modern art -- and there's a student that says -- no, that's just an advertisement. and she says, quiet, everyone listen. what will the people 20 years 30 years from now say about you? how are they going to examine you? a girdle to suck you in to make you have a perfect figure? a meatloaf all of you chemists can weigh and measure the mass between the ketchup and the meat itself.
a lot of times the school wesley -- the wesley girls that was portrayed there, there were women there that did their husbands-to-be homework so that they would do well in school. they were there to meet husbands. they were there to -- >> get their m.r.s. >> be the perfect wife and still have a college degree and have dinner on the table by -- >> did that convince you that all women of that era were exactly the same way? >> no, it didn't. it definitely had -- it had -- the movie was nice because it had a chameleon effect. you saw in the faces of certain characters that there were women in the movie that wanted to have a separate life from just being wives. and there were women that thought that this was all that there was, to only be a wife, to have this perfect figure, to have this perfect life. and i feel sometimes in today's
society that women are kind of migrating to that ideal, especially with the economy the way it is. they migrate to this fact that, i'm going to be taken care of and everything is going to be all right. and that's bogus. my mother totally raised me. i'm the girl in the family that gets dirty and does the garbage and takes care of the house and pays the bills. i'm that girl, that young woman in the house. whether i do get married or not, i've already established in my mind, i'm going to make sure i take care of me -- >> let me ask you a question about that. >> sure. >> if you wrote a piece of literature based on your life now, what story would you tell? the story of your aspirations and dreams for the future or the reality you live every day? >> can i hybrid them? >> why not? >> yes, then i would hybrid them. i would talk about the issues that happened, the struggles that i've gone through until now -- >> and how that leads you to that you want in the future. >> exactly. and how -- what i want for the future because i still have
girlfriends and friends that say to me, you know, i just want to get married and be happy. if you were to talk to me at 20, i'd be like, oh, my god, i'm not married yet. and now i'm a little older than 20. and i'm thinking, it's okay if i don't get married. but i want to make sure that i travel to alaska, that i learn four languages -- >> your story goes on? >> my story goes on. that i make sure -- my story is going to continue whether i get married or not. i'm going to take care of me. >> thank you. >> thanks. >> we are done. thank you, everyone. now get out. by next week, "fences" read, ready to be analyzed. don't come to class not having read it.
>> will we be discussing "tropical blues" as well? >> absolutely. tropical blues and fences is our discussion for next week. >> each year, "time" magazine selects a person who had the most influence on events in the previous 12 months. if the same question posed in 1862, who would "time" select as person of the year? american history tv will be live, this saturday, from richmond, virginia, as the historians including james mcpherson and david blight ponder that question and present their candidates for person of the year 1862. the library of virginia host the all-day forum. during date we'll open phone lines and take tweets so you can question historians about nominations and propose your own candidates. live coverage begins at 9:30 a.m. eastern to 4:30 p.m. eastern on american history tv
on c-span3. each week american history tv american's artifacts takes views are to historic sites around the country. a look at black history month. the smithsonian national museum of african-american history and culture will open a new building on the national mall in 2015. and the ground breaking ceremony will take place tomorrow. we'll get a preview next on c-span3. then the relationship between mart martin luther king jr. and his mentors, heys and thurmon. and later a tour of the national civil rights museum in memphis, tennessee. each week american artifacts takes viewers into archives, museums and historic sites around the country. the smithsonian national museum
of african-american history and culture will open a new building on the national mall in 2015. american history tv spoke with loni bunch the museum's founding director about the new facility. we travel with mr. bunch to the storage site in the washington, d.c., suburb where he shows us artifacts on display in the new building. >> right now we are the nas sum museum of history. this is where my staff will be until the museum opens 2015. six years ago i started waite staff of two, no place to know whether the museum would be, no sense of what the building would look like. today we have a wonderful architect who has created this wonderful model that i'm standing next to. this is the model that gives a sense of what the building will look like when it's erected next to the washington monument.
the cost of this building is a wonderful public/private partnership. $500 million, congress committed to paying 50%, and i'm committed to raising 50% of those costs. one of the joys of this building it's got this beautiful bronze skin gl glistening in the sun. what's wonderful about it it has a certain pattering of certain filigree. what that is, those are patterns based on african-american slaves crafts people in charleston and in new orleans who in the 19th century created beautiful iron work. so this in a ways a homage to those unnamed people who did so much to sort of build the united states. and then what i love about it is, usually when you go into a building on the plaul, you're inside the building. what we want to do is recognize
that you're on the mall so we want to offer people wonderful vistas because this going to be right next to the washington monument in the shadow of the white house. you'll be able to see the lincoln memorial, jefferson, arlington cemetery. what we've createds a porch so the public will be able to come in and go out on a porch and look at the views of washington, maybe have a cup of coffee, talk about what they've seen in the museum or other smithsonian museums. we want the public to recognize that this building has to do several things. while the a museum, first and foremost, we want to enrich the visitors' experience on the mall. we want them to be able to get views that they haven't gotten in other places. we want them to understand that they're in washington, d.c., when they visit this mall so we'll tell a bit of that history as well. the real question one would ask is, why is there a need for a new museum, especially a museum
that looks at african-american history and culture. the way we're framing this museum is to recognize on the one hand it's this wonderful opportunity to understand the african-american experience, to help people understand the stories that they thought they'd know in new ways, but to really understand the deep richness and importance of african-american culture. what makes this important is that we want to use this museum as a lens to explore what it means to be an american. in essence, this is not simply a museum for african-americans about african-american history. this is an opportunity to create a national museum that allows us all to understand the role that african-american culture has played in shaping all of our lives. one of the challenges when i came back to do this museum is to recognize that i had to build a collection that at the smithsonian you can have wonderful technology but you've
got have the iconic treasure, you've got to have the greensboro lunch counter or the wright flyer. what we're going to do this morning is we're going to go out to our storage area, out in maryland, to give you a sense of just some of the wondrous collections that we've been able to find. right now we're in the storage units of the national museum of culture. this is heart of the museum. what's behind me and what we'll see today are many of the objects that are going to be the sole of this museum. this is an opportunity to sort of preview some of the material that the public will see when the museum opens its doors. one of the things crucially important, as you'll see, so much of the museum's time and
resources are spent on caring of the collections. that we have amazing experts who know how to preserve and make sure this material will be with us for generations. and we've opened this storage unit and we are coming to this wonderful piece of headgear. this is a boxing headgear that was worn by muhammad ali. as we know, in many ways muhammad ali started his career as a boxer but he then transformed himself into a cultural and political leader. and we all know the story of his gold medal in rome in 1960, heavyweight championship. but what was clear that is ali became a symbol of unrest in america when he began to claim both his blackness and his desire to sort of campaign against the war in vietnam. this piece of equipment was crucial to ali's career and for
us to have this allows us to interpret muhammad ali from many different lenses. this piece is from the fifth street gym in miami where ali trains early in his career. one of the things that is so important is to realize how much goes behind the scenes in making a museum work. and in this case, because in essence we had to start from scratch, not only did we have to build a collection, find all of this material but then build a system to protect it, build a system to track it, and then build the systems to allow us exhibit it. so it really is this long, complicated process that takes many years to complete. what happens when you try to build museum is the notion of getting these collections and so one of the challenges is, the variety of ways you do this. early in my career, it was pretty easy that people sort of felt the desire to give to the
smithsonian. but then as times changed these things became a commodity, planet hollywood, hard rock cafe. people began to see these as a way to make money. what we have is a variety of ways to bill a collection. we still have people who are great donors that we court and we talk to about donating material to the smithsonian. we also get over the transome collecting. people call or say i've got this cool thing do you want it? sometimes it's cool, sometimes it's a copy so we have to be careful about what happens because often when you create a museum you are so embracive that then 30, 40 years later you've got material that you really don't need. we're trying to be careful of what we collect. you also go out to auction or purchase things that are rare. what we try to do is limit that but to do that of things that are hard to do. it's hard to get sometimes civil war hero material or slavery
material. sometimes it's hard to get fine art. we do try go out and ju dishly acquire things through auctions and purchase. the goal is to have a variety of americanisms that allow us build this collection. one of the joys of this process is realizing just what's out there, is that there are many things that you want, that you hope to find, but you're convinces you're never going to find. here we're looking at two artifacts that i was convinced didn't exist. these are materials that are related to harriet tubman, the great abolitionist and underground railroad conductor. you're looking at a shawl given to harriet tubman by queen victoria of england as a way to honor her resiliency and the work that she's done in terms of being a champion of freedom.
what i love is that not only did we get this from a checker, but he gave us this gospel hymnal. this is a gospel hymnal that harriet tubman owned. what is powerful, if you remember, when harriet tubman would go south, tomp alert enslaved that it was time to go, she would sing various hymnals, swing slow sweet chariots. harriet tubman count read but the fact she carried this hymnal with her for a large part of her lives a moving and powerful piece. and it seems to me that this museum has to tell what is one of most painful stories in america, the story of enslavement. and there is -- there are few things as powerful as a shackle. these are the kind of shackles that were used during the period of enslavement and what people forget is that slavery is also
about control and violence and trying to coerce people to do unpaid labor. what i think we want to do is to be able to interpret slavery both as a system that helped the country economically and as a system that was shaped by the people who lived it but also recognizing that the enslavement of people continues to shape the way americans' identity is and the way americans live to this day. and here is a really special artifact, much like the harriet tubman material that we couldn't believe. this is a bible that we think was owned by nan turner. nat turner was an enslaved african who led a revolve in 1831, led what was considered the largest slave revolt and when nat turner was eventually captured he had a sword and this bible and the fact that this was
passed on in the families and eventually donated to us is a very powerful artifact that allows us to tell a story that is on left out, which is the story of rebellion and desire for freedom at all costs. but one of the things that is really interesting about a museum is that on the one hand you tell these grand stories, but on the other hand what you want to do is personalize it. right here is really a simple document, a piece of paper, hard to read. but what it is, it's a bill of sale for a young woman named polly a 16-year-old woman who was being sold from one person to another in the 19th century. and what i think is so powerful about this is so recognize that on the one hand this is a legal document. on the other hand this is the story of a people, this is the story of a woman's life, and so for us, to be able to personalize slavery through
things like there is mean that we're going to be able to help the public not just understand but care. and again, as we've said, some of these are so priceless and the way they have to be handled by experts like michelle here, this is one of the prize objects we have. the story of african-americans and the american revolution is often rarely told and this is a powder horn that was carved by an enslaved african named prince simbo and he lived in glasston bury connecticut, fought in the american revolution from 1778 to about 1782. what is powerful about this is first of all, because he carved it, we know a lot about it. but on the other side of it, is this amazing sort of sim poll. it is the dove and in the mouth of the dove is the word "liberty" so the notion of an enslaved african being the
person to help define what liberty means in america is really a very important piece for us. and so this is going to be one of those rare things that people are going to be surprised to see. and going -- keeping with those theme of the military experience, one of the things we know is that african-americans from the revolutionary war really through afghanistan used the plil tear as a way to prove their worth, prove they're worthy of citizenship and this was never truer than during the civil war. what you see here are two types of civil war soldiers. and as you may know, by 1863, thousands of african-americans became soldiers in the union army and so you'll be able to sort of see that they had these images taken part as a way to document but part of the way to symbolize the pride of making the transformation from being enslaved or even being free but
discriminated against to be able to fight for your freedom. one of the things that's so interesting are little things you find. so what we have is a type of sergeant quarrels tibbs they were informal i.d. badges made during the civil war and is this his little badge that talks about his name and so the fact that we have an image, we have us personalize these stories. because the story of the african-amory,eran it is a stor about us all, one of the joys is artifacts like this is a trunk that was carried by an officer of the 55th massachusetts. you remember regiments were segregated but the officer tended to be white. this trunk was owned by george garrison who was the son of the
abolitionist william lloyd garrison and he served as an officer in the 55th massachusetts the companion unit to the famo and i think that being able to make sure that we're telling the full richness of the story from a variety ofperspectives this trunk allows us do just that. not only a historical will sick trunk but to use the scholarly term pretty cool. to get a sense of thinking about army life what you put in here, you in essence put in all of who you are, and this is what you carry with us. this is a great case that's going to allow us help people real understand what life was like during the civil wear this story of the african-american experience is both a story of resiliency and achievement but it's also a of e hard parts of exploring this ate
who were at the worst tended to be other americans. and so that to interpret this because americans aren't used to being the bad guys. one of the things that's powerful is objects like this that convey the sort of strong anti-black sentiment. this is a ku klux klan banner om the knights of the ku klux klan and as you know the klan began after the civil war, it sort of goes underground, and then it sort of bursts new as a result of the film "the birth of a nation" and the klan becomes not a southern phenomena but ' and 30s and this banner is what people would use to celebrate their investment and their participation of the clue clux klan. so these are the kind